Recession hits jobs as hard as the 1980s slump

The jobs outlook is as bleak as the 1980s recession, the TUC warned today.

In a report comparing offical unemployment figures with those of the 1980s and 1990s, it found the gap between numbers of people losing their jobs and those finding new ones is greater than at any time during the 1990s recession.

Looking at the first four quarters of rising unemployment during each recession, the TUC calculated that the rate of unemployment had increased faster during this recession (30%) than in the 1990s recession (22%) and the 1980s recession, when the rate of increase was 29%.

If we repeat the patterns of previous recessions it could be about three years before the economy returns to where it was before this recession started.

Contrary to early suggestions that this recession would hit the whole country equally, unemployment is growing more than twice as fast in some regions than others, the report found.

The biggest quarterly gap between those starting to claim unemployment benefits and those leaving the claimant count in the 1990s recession was 78,700, yet between quarter four of 2008 and quarter one of 2009 the difference was 91,900.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The chancellor is likely to be right when he says that this is the worst recession for 60 years. The picture for jobs and growth is already bleaker than the last recession, and is looking much more like the deep recession of the 1980s every day.

“Contrary to some commentators, there are no signs that the outlook for unemployment is starting to improve.”

Barber praised the government for taking “prompt action” to ease the financial crisis.

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